Autism and anxiety, Pt. 1

I am not who I think I am. This raises the issue: Who am I? How to begin this? There are so many layers. One that really stands out is the layer at the top, the one that exposes me to the real world. This is my social desirability layer. The connection of this layer to lower, more intimate layers is tenuous at best. How many layers are there? It depends on when I look and in what context. Some days it seems like there are none. Other days it’s almost endless. Thousands of layers, like tiny layers of pastry. A reality cake of past events, as complex as life with all its twists and turns cooked into the recipe. Sweet moments sandwiched between bitter relish.  Passion overwhelmed by grief. The intermingling of absolute life beauty and the endless smoke of death. Memories piled into an infinite stack of pancakes.

These layers can seem like soap bubbles. They are clearly visible. Then, gone! Perhaps our minds are more like strawberry jam, which looks like one mass. Then, when you look carefully, you can see the tiny seeds. Or, there are no layers. It may just be an illusion to help us understand consciousness. Regardless, autism is a foundation of the neurotype.

When a child is born, they are confronted by a barrage of stimulation. They cry and are comforted usually by the mother. They quiet down and begin a period of visual scanning of the environment (known as the quiet alert period) and, at the same time, bonding occurs between the mother and child, through touch and odour,. This process may not occur in the autistic child. If the autistic child is overwhelmed by what could be called stimulus overload. That is, given that stimulus overload Is a common issue for many autistic people, it’s not much of a reach to understand that a barrage of stimulation at birth could lead to a strong withdrawal response by the autistic child.This response becomes a primal fear which then becomes an internal stimulus to withdraw into oneself. This sets up a pattern of aversion-withdrawal, developed at birth, that can alter perception and is persistent. This may help to understand the high levels of anxiety consistently reported by autistic people. 

This concept would predict that, regardless of which level of consciousness, a high level of anxiety will persist. So, in order to explore different levels of consciousness, understanding the role of anxiety is required.  As an example, whenever I have to go into a situation where there is a lot of people, I become anxious. Why? Rationally I know there is no danger. Irrationally, my body is preparing for a flight-flight response.IMHO anxiety is the primary reason for so-called autistic responses, such as stimming. 

However, as an autistic, I understand the healthy aspects of stimming, so anxiety may play a different role, similar to NT anxiety, which I will address in my next entry.

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